Does anyone remember Cecil the Lion?
Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. But I’m betting that, a year ago, at least a few of you were all agog over Cecil and his untimely demise.
Cecil is now old news. Most people have forgotten him. That’s an excellent example of how short our memories are and how easily we allow ourselves to be manipulated.
Likewise, Christians who try to advocate for their values in the political arena so often end up getting manipulated instead of achieving legitimate political change. Full-speed, grown-up politics is no place for people who follow sensations and are looking for heroes. Too often we forget the promises politicians made when they needed our vote.
There is no place in politics for followership-without-accountability. Hero-worship without holding these ‘heroes’ to task is a major reason why we’ve battled Roe for 50 years and Roe still stands .
This election and what will follow after November is going to put us to the test. We are at a fulcrum of sorts. The Supreme Court will be in play in the next few years. Meanwhile the people of this country are signaling loud and clear that they’ve had enough of both neocons and “new” Democrats. They want a government that responds to them, and if they don’t get it, things could become a little dicey. Trouble is, I don’t think either the neocons or the “new” Democrats understand how serious this divide between them and the people is.
Those of us who believe in the sanctity of human life and the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom are caught in the middle of all this. How does a Christian manage to be both a faithful Christian and an effective advocate for life and liberty in the cut-throat world of what has become utterly ruthless, crude and uncaring American politics?
Most of the people we have in office right now would never have been considered by voters of previous generations. I include the two candidates in the current presidential election in that assessment.
We can believe Secretary Clinton when she says she supports “women’s right to chose.” I think she means it right down to the ground. Given the way things stack up on the Supreme Court today, there is a real possibility that if she wins this election, she might be able to set Roe in judicial concrete for another 50 years.
Mr Trump, who is no more pro life than Secretary Clinton, has, because of the necessities of winning this election, made some promises on the matter. Two of them, including his promise to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, depend on Congressional action. The other, which is a promise to nominate pro life people for the Supreme Court, is very important. I want to believe him, but I’m not a fool for Mr Trump. Trusting his word is like trying to nail jello to the wall. If he wins this election, we are going to have to use all our wits and play politics for real to make him follow through.
Which leads me to back to the question. How do we remain faithful while still being effective political advocates? I think the simple answer is that Christian voters haven’t been faithful enough, and that’s why we haven’t been effective.
Think for a minute. Why did Mr Trump make these pro life promises? For that matter, why did he change his position of a year ago which was, in his own words, “very pro choice” and supportive of both funding for Planned Parenthood and partial birth abortion?
He was clear on the issue. Then, he changed his position — many times — until he’s finally made the promises I reference. What made him do this?
It’s simple, really. Secretary Clinton made him do it.
He had to change because he cannot win this election without the pro life vote. For the next 5 weeks, he needs us. If he wins, we have to figure out how to remind him that he needs us, even when he’s in power.
I don’t think we can do that while hero worshipping him.
Why did I say that we haven’t been faithful enough? I say that because we’ve done two things that make us easy political prey. First, we do the Cecil the Lion amnesia thing where “our” team is concerned. We forget every tawdry, back-stabbing thing that “our” politicians do to us. We excuse, overlook and, if we are forced, make up phony scenarios to avoid facing reality on reality’s terms.
We put all our faith in these politicians, and that turns into something akin to a faux religiosity. Many even compromise the faith and the teachings of the Church if they conflict with the “teachings” of “our” political party.
Aside from the obvious spiritual problems of this idolatry, it makes us rubes and easy pickings in the political world. These people in whom we vest so much faith are no closer to us and no more concerned about us than Cecil the Lion was. We only matter to them if they need us, and then only if we make them doubt that we’ll come running when they whistle.
If we’re all bagged up, and they think all they have to do to keep us in that bag is serve up verbal pablum at pro life rallies, then they won’t respect us. That means they will deal us away for things and people they do respect.
How do Christians stay faithful to Christ and be effective in the political arena? It’s simple, really, and it only involves two things.
First, the only One we should ever be a fool for is Jesus Christ. If following Him requires that we do what seems politically stupid; that, for instance, we align ourselves with the “other” party on one issue and with “our” party on another issue, then we should do it. We shouldn’t try to be smart. We should just follow Jesus.
If Christians would start doing that, it would change the entire political landscape of this country. It would also give us the kind of authentic Christian witness that would earn respect — and conversions — from the larger culture.
Second, we need to remember. When one of “our” politicians betrays us, we need to remember it. This person sold us out, and if they sold us out in public where we can see it, they’ve done it other times behind closed doors, and — get ready for this — they will do it again.
We need to remember these things and not let them slide. We are the only voice of helpless unborn babies. We are also the narrow column that sees that religious freedom is the key to all freedom.
When these politicians betray their promises to us, they are not betraying us. They are betraying children, and they are betraying the bedrock of this nation. We don’t have the luxury of being good little boys and girls who let things slide. If we did that, we would be betraying the children of our nation ourselves.
Effective political advocacy by Christians can be summed up in two sentences.
Be fools for Christ. Don’t be fools for politicians.